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Flying Lotus Flower: Radiohead vs The King Of Beats

We came across some interesting tweets from music journalist Atze de Vrieze Today on Flying Lotus’ influence on Radiohead or vice versa. We asked Atze to guest blog his thoughts on The King Of Limbs and Flying Lotus.

“Im trippin out right now.. this radiohead shit is cold! gawd. i need to slap someone in the face .. someone come over.” Flying Lotus kind of lost his mind on Twitter yesterday, and he knew it. “Sorry i gotta tweet thru this radiohead joint”, he apologized. “Its kinda a world event for me.”

Understandable, because the British band quite literally honor the Los Angeles beat producer on their new album The King Of Limbs. Some fans even mistakenly called the new single Flying Lotus instead of Lotus Flower, a Freudian slip the band itself could have invented. The song starts with a minute of electronic sounding rhythms, with a deep, slowly lapsing bass, guitar glitches and distorted handclaps. Only after that minute Thom Yorke starts singing, with his falsetto, with more soul than he usually has.

Last year Flying Lotus had breakthrough with his third album Cosmogramma. He perfected the sound he developed on his first two records, an amalgam of hip hop, bass music and experimental jazz (his great-aunt was Alice Coltrane). It’s a cosmic electronic opera. A layered, intense and totally unique album, and no doubt a big influence for producers in the coming years. Not in the least for Radiohead.

If Lotus Flower doesn’t convince you, just put on Bloom, The King Of Limbs’ opening track. It has a looped piano, jazz drums that sound like samples and that seem to ignore the direction the piano pointed out. A signature Flylo technique. After three minutes, an orchestra is coming up, slowly but overwhelming. Horns and strings it seems, but so distorted they get an extraterrestrial feel. It’s a clear nod to Cosmogramma’s overture. The producer must have felt as if the track was produced just for him. “Fuck.. I was sittin outside in the chair and the speakers said BLOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM #thekingoflimbs pow powpow pow.”

The cross-pollination is easy to substantiate. Their paths crossed continuously in recent years. Flying Lotus remixed Radiohead song Reckoner and Thom Yorke lent his voice to Flylo’s … And The World Laughs With You. Last month, the Radiohead frontman presented an award to the producer at the World Wide Awards, hosted by BBC DJ Gilles Peterson. Backstage after the show he interviewed him. Well, more or less. It’s a safe bet to say new Radiohead track Feral will end up in Flylo’s live set.

But wait, isn’t it the other way around? Aren’t Radiohead the mentors here, Flylo the protege? Contrary rhythms and electronic experiments, isn’t that what Radiohead have been about since the turn of the century? If there’s one record The King Of Limbs builds upon, it’s Thom Yorke’s solo album The Eraser. Flylo’s LA buddy The Gaslamp Killer plays songs from that album in his dj-sets all the time, and in his own work, the influence is undeniable as well.

“For me, OK Computer is not the classic, Kid A is”, Flying Lotus said in and interview I did with him last year, one month before Cosmogramma was released. In his live set that night, he incorporated Idioteque, a classic from that period. “And Amnesiac is my personal favorite. Rhythmic as well as melodic. Interesting rhythmic patterns always attract my attention.”

There are still people who believe Radiohead lost it after OK Computer and everything they release after that was navel-gazing. That Radiohead were trapped in their own world, that the A&R manager of the good old record company was sorely missed. All nonsense. Radiohead have turned away from the mainstream and leave big stadium anthems to Muse and Kings Of Leon, but they have never been blind to what’s happening in the frontline of today’s music. This is how Flying Lotus puts it: “Studentteacherteacherstudent.”

Atze de Vrieze is a music journalist for 3VOOR12, the prime online and radio platform of Dutch public broadcasting company VPRO. The King Of Limbs is the album of the week on their website. You can find him on Twitter.

27 Comments

  • I think they each have an influence on one another. Simple as that. And if Kid A/Amnesiac never happened and Radiohead made OK Computer over and over again, the world would have rendered them irrelevant. Or U2. A much, much, much better U2.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Radiohead News, Atze de Vrieze, Victoria, lkrory21, tyrone spencer and others. tyrone spencer said: RT @radioheadnews: Flying Lotus Flower: Radiohead vs The King Of Beats – guest blog post by @atzedevrieze http://bit.ly/f67pYs [...]

  • i think that i dont really care who influenced who . i think there is an incredible connection between FLyLo and RD specially Thom [ @least at the beginning of the relationship ] and probably since FlyLo is such a great artist then the relationship grew with all the band . but , does it really matter who influenced who ? why do we always have to analyze so much everything ? just let it flow [ i know . . . the media need this yellow journalism of bitching and complaining and comparing and and and but but but what really counts is : The connection works and we have an incredible Flylo album in connection with T.Y. or the full RD energy [ who knows . . . ] and we have the most beautiful 2 0 1 1 album from an incredible band that might be or not influenced by Fly LO , that s all . the formula works . TKL is beautiful , its modern and its everything , c’mon . . . you can t deny that please . . . . what the hell do we have ears and hearts for ? to talk or to feel ?

    I LOVE TKL . i truly swear can t stop listening to it. [ and dance ] I smile while listening and i feel beauty , i feel peace , i feel an incredible mood , and well . . . ok . . . i ll say it . . . i see thom yorke on an incredible moment himself , i can feel he is so happy right now , and that s makes me happy , i can t deny it . And if all i said its kind of real or true [ who knows . . . ] i am sure every single member of RD is happy as well .

    do we need more than that ?

  • What I want to know: Has Coldplay announced when they will copy this one?

  • I’m very happy this got posted. As soon as I heard “Feral”, I thought of FlyLo. It seems Radiohead are really maturing with every record, this one especially.

  • Flying Lotus: the first clone from the Kid A generation ?

  • I didn’t take this article as “bitching” about anything. More or less just pointing out that Radiohead and FlyLo are driving each other to make better/awesome music. An amazing symbiotic relationship that we all get to benefit from.

    When Flying Lotus said “StudentTeacherTeacherStudent” it pretty much summed it up.

  • @PANTRUS… well put my friend. Enough said.

  • I’m waiting for someone to do a mashup of Lotus Flower with Fuck the Pain Away…the drums are similar.

  • Sorry for off topic, but please, has anyone found a way to add TKOL album art to .waw version in iTunes? I tried everything (and still its not in its right place).. Thanks

  • @Ondras

    I don’t think .wav files have the ability to have album art, you’d have to convert your .wav files to either mp3 or aac (or another format perhaps) to be able to add album art to it.

  • Ohh I didn’t know, shame for .waw then, I’ll covert it. Thank you

  • @Gardensanke :

    i agree – - i referred to the article only saying that we shouldn t really be thinking too much about who influenced who, just enjoy music, life etc , then i kind of jumped to talk about media in general or people in general – but i know i always confuse people , sorry , its my trademark [ or really bad english to express myself hehe ]

  • On that same note, though, these rhythms are not new to Jonny Greenwood’s scores ala There Will Be Blood. Disconnected rhythms with tons of skittery percussion. While I definitely agree FlyLo seems to have influenced the album quite a lot, we can’t ignore that this is very much in the same vein as Greenwood’s arrangement abilities. It’s a very logical step for the band given the last three years of ‘solo’ work in each of their own respects.

  • @Ondras : so you prefere the cover imagine (which you’re not even supposed to watch as to close eyes is the best way to listen) rather than better music quality? lol.. choices :D me, i sacrified the album cover (that’s the savescreen yet..)

  • Good read. I’ve never listened to flying lotus, but King of Limbs is quickly becoming one of my favorite Radiohead albums. Apparently I owe FL a listen :)

  • Finally some useful info. Thanks!

    http://tooarab.com/2011/02/20/youve-stolen-all-my-magic/

  • @OK_Kid . i wish all “ok kids” of the world would be like U. Future is in your hands.

  • Amryhood@ I sacrificed better quality just for my iPod, because on my cheap headphones you cant tell a difference between the two formats :-)

  • OK_Kid:

    This is a nice chilled-out place to start:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv8RtNqTwW4

    Maybe Radiohead should actually work with Flylo, who frankly can do this kind of thing a whole lot better than Nigel ever could….

  • Are you able to please deliver me a mail. I truly like your style.

  • @Ondras i think god punished me for telling you this.. i woke up and my NOT cheap headphones were broken -__- i’m gonna do the same as you..

  • Mine are gorilla taped together…so i have to hold my hands against them. So it looks like I’m about to do a thom yorke dance move.
    Also, I wonder if thom yorke is the modern michael jackson now…

  • The Gaslamp Killer is amazing, you guys should all check him out when you get the chance.

  • I boycotted the grammys as irrelevant this year bc they snubbed Cosmogramma in the electronic category (clearly the years best and not even nominated!) I have to wonder if this came out first if FlyLo would have gotten more love from the man.

  • [...] many of them with Phil Selway’s frenetic percussion and more slices of European (or Los Angeles‘) bass music, a very public influence on their 21st-century [...]

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